World Health Day 2014: Small bite, big threat

Today, for World Health Day this year, the World Health Organization has chosen to highlight the serious and increasing threat of vector-borne diseases. Every year, more than one billion people are infected and more than one million die from these diseases, which include malaria, dengue, leishmaniasis, lyme disease, schistosomiasis, and yellow fever, carried by mosquitoes, flies, ticks, water snails and other vectors.

A Reminder as to Why the Global Fund is Important

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is seeking to raise $15 billion in its new replenishment, this week. There will be a lot of discussions and reports about the vital organzation. Here are two new videos form the Center for Strategic International Studies out of Washington DC.

The first video looks at the Global Fund and the importance of the US as a major financial supporter to its work. This is a good video for those of you that are not familiar with the Fund. It answers the questions: what is the Fund and its mission? What impact has it had? What will it take to sustain its success?

Next up, Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and a Senior Director at the National Security Council, explains why the Global Fund matters today and discusses the United States’ leadership role in supporting the Fund.

Malaria Vaccine Looks More Promising

Some exciting developments in the quest to create a safe and effective malaria vaccine were announced at a conference in Durban, South Africa late yesterday afternoon.

The efficacy and public health impact of RTS,S were evaluated in the context of existing malaria control measures, such as insecticide treated bed nets, which were used by 78% of children and 86% of infants in the trial. In these latest results over 18 months of follow-up, children aged 5-17 months at first vaccination with RTS,S experienced 46% fewer cases of clinical malaria, compared to children immunised with a control vaccine. An average of 941 cases of clinical malaria were prevented over 18 months of follow-up for every 1,000 children vaccinated in this age group, noting that a child can contract more than one case of malaria. Severe malaria cases were reduced by 36%; 21 cases of severe malaria were prevented over 18 months of follow-up for every 1,000 children vaccinated. Malaria hospitalisations were reduced by 42%.

Infants aged 6-12 weeks at first vaccination with RTS,S had 27% fewer cases of clinical malaria. Over 18 months of follow-up, 444 cases of clinical malaria were prevented for every 1,000 infants vaccinated. The reduction of severe malaria cases and malaria hospitalisations by 15% and 17%, respectively, were not statistically significant.

“It appears that the RTS,S candidate vaccine has the potential to have a significant public health impact,” says Tinto. “Preventing substantial numbers of malaria cases in a community would mean fewer hospital beds filled with sick children. Families would lose less time and money caring for these children and have more time for work or other activities. And of course the children themselves would reap the benefits of better health.”

Overall, vaccine efficacy declined over time: Previous results from one year follow-up of the Phase 3 trial showed that efficacy of RTS,S was 56% against clinical malaria and 47% against severe malaria for the 5-17 month-old age group and 31% against clinical malaria and 37% against severe malaria in the 6-12 week-old age group.

 

1.1 Million More People on ARV Treatment due to Global Fund

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria released their mid-year results for 2013. The numbers are very exciting.

More than 5.3 million people living with HIV receive ARVs thanks to the Global Fund. The findings also observe a 21% increase in the number of women treated to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

“These results show that we can have a transformative effect on these diseases, by working together,” said Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund. “More people affected by HIV today can go to work, send their children to school and lead healthy lives thanks to the hard work of all our partners.”

Big strides have also been made in the fight against malaria, with 30 million insecticide-treated nets distributed in the first half of 2013 under programs supported by the Global Fund, taking the total number of nets distributed to 340 million. The number of cases of malaria treated rose to 330 million, a 13 percent increase.

Global Fund-supported TB programs also continued to expand. Global Fund financing has cumulatively supported detection and treatment of 11 million smear-positive cases of TB, up from 9.7 million at the end of 2012. The number of people treated for multidrug-resistant TB grew to 88,000 from 69,000 through Global-Fund supported programs. The World Health Organization reported that 56,000 cases were enrolled in treatment of multidrug-resistant TB globally in 2011, of which Global Fund-supported programs accounted for about 22 percent. India drove the leap forward, accounting for about 60 percent of the increase at the end of 2012.

Luquembo and the Raft

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Distributing thousands of mosquito nets is never an easy thing, even when bridges are available. When that’s not the case, PSI/Angola team takes over!

See below how very real logistics and supply chain become in the field. In order to reach all households in some of the most secluded communes in the country, it was necessary to build a raft to transport nets and personnel to the other side of the river.

PSI/Angola continues distributing LLINs in the country’s most endemic provinces. A huge hat tip to the entire team: Ann, Camille, Maria Eugenia, Marcelino, Die, Israel, Akko and all of the communicators, household registers and LLIN distributors contributing to the campaign! Great job, keep it up!

Innovations to End Poverty: Beating Malaria with only a Laser

In his 2010 TED talk, Nathan Myhrvold makes the case for how innovations can be cool to many of us, but can also transform the lives of the world’s poor. His blog post reflecting on the talk yesterday recognizes some of the push-back he has received from the talk.

Since my talk in 2010, we’ve expanded our work under what we now call Global Good. It’s still early in the process, but initial results are promising for our hypothesis that the life-saving power of technology and invention isn’t exclusive to wealthy parts of the world.

How much of your U.S. taxes goes toward stopping AIDS, malaria and child mortality?

How-much-of-your-U.S.-taxes-goes-toward-stopping-AIDS--largeDo you know how much of your taxes go towards global health programs? Chris Collins, Vice President and Director of Public Policy, amfAR: The Foundation for AIDS Research, shares the facts in a blog post for the Huffington Post. He writes:

U.S.-funded global health programs have made an enormous impact over the last decade. According to a 2012 study conducted by Stanford University School of Medicine, between 2004 and 2008, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was associated with a reduction in the odds of death of nearly 20 percent in the countries where it operated. Researchers found that more than 740,000 lives were saved in nine target countries during this period. A 2013 report released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation found that malaria deaths among children in sub-Saharan Africa started declining rapidly in 2005. The report attributed this success to increased distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets and malaria treatment expanded through programs funded in large part by the U.S. government.

U.S. investments in foreign assistance save the lives of the world’s neediest and serve U.S. diplomatic interests. As Secretary of State John Kerry said in February, “Foreign assistance is not a giveaway. It is not charity. It is an investment in a strong America and a free world.”

 

Are we falling behind against drug resistant malaria?

Credit: Yannick Tylle/ CorbisThe Guardian Development Professionals Network hosted a conversation this morning on the progress and missteps against malaria drug resistance. PSI deputy director of the malaria and child survival department Angus Spiers joined other experts for a conversation about the present challenges and what is being done to slow down resistance. Here is an excerpt of the conversation:

Introductions

AngusSpeirsPSI: Hello, this is Angus Spiers from PSI. Very happy to be part of this discussion. Prudence, (I hope you’re well, it’s been too long), you make a number of very pertinent points, particularly the need for rapid identification of resistance foci and measures to effectively target them.

We have been focusing on a number of areas in the Mekong region to help combat artemisinin resistance, particularly with case management in the private sector where a large proportion of people seek treatment (see ACTwatch) but receive little in the way of effective diagnosis and are often treated with sub-standard monotherapies which only help drive resistance.

Resistance and Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT)

PrudenceHamade: I know PSI is working in Myanmar to try to replace monotherapies with ACTs as well but I am afraid it might be too little too late.

ACTs still cure patients with malaria but they are taking longer to do so allowing the ‘resistant parasite’ which remains when all the non-resistant parasites are cleared to be transmitted to others Being positive 72 hours after treatment ( Day 3) is only a proxy measure of resistance how can we better determine resistance and when we do what can be done to make sure the resistant parasites are not passed on to others.

Cross Post: WWE Divas Help Refugees in Rwanda Fight Malaria

By Natalya and Alicia Fox

It’s one thing to hear about a scary, serious global health problem like malaria on TV or in the news. It’s not a disease that we have much experience with anymore in the United States.

But for millions of families around the world, malaria is a real threat. It’s hard to believe that today, a child still dies every minute from this completely preventable disease. Countless

mothers put their babies to bed at night and worry: Will my little girl be bitten by a malaria-carrying mosquito? How can I keep her safe? We met some of these mothers and listened to their stories on our recent trip to Rwanda with the United Nations Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign.

South Sudan: A Community Rises to Defeat Malaria

The following is the introduction to an interactive story from the Global Fund that tells of a community in South Sudan that is addressing the problem of malaria. The work highlighted is the result of cooperation between the Global Fund, PSI, the government of South Sudan and other partners. Read below to learn more and go here to see immerse yourself into the story.

On returning to their homeland after surviving two decades of war, the people of Morobo County in the new nation of South Sudan realized that they still had another battle to fight.

Malaria was killing many of their children.

Determined to save their babies, parents walked for dozens of kilometers to the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or Uganda to seek treatment. Others didn’t have the money to make the trip or pay for treatment, so they turned instead to traditional healers. Time and again, the children would die in their mothers’ arms because the herbs traditional healers administered to their hapless little patients couldn’t cure malaria.